Hansie Smit
Hansie Smit

Disco brings the rand back

I’m not a huge fan of ATM fees. My feeling is if banks insist on charging cover for access to money that was mine to begin with the least they can do is roll out the red carpet. Offer me the financial equivalent of getting kissed before I get screwed. It’s only appropriate considering the desperate state of affairs all things money concerned at the moment.

I bank with Standard Bank. Wouldn’t it be nice to see a red velvet rope outside their signature blue ATMs in these dark times? Some sequins around the logo could help.

When I visit a different bank — and the fees and suffering all things money concerned increase tenfold — I’d like to see some bells and whistles. Nothing fancy, just a drink at the door. Once inside I’d like to see a mirror ball in the roof rotating slowly painting the walls pretty with a thousand twinkling stars. After inserting my card I’d like to see that ball spin a little faster. A gentle drum ‘n bass beat adds life to the monotonous beep-beep-beep of my selections. In addition to a language I get to choose a genre. Obviously I go for disco (there’s already a mirror ball in the roof) singing along to ABBA’s Money, Money, Money selecting my own amount and not going for a slip. As the machine counts the notes, instead of the usual rumbling, a drum roll sounds before streamers, glitter and cash shoot triumphantly from the slot just as ABBA goes, “if I had a little money”.

I know what you’re thinking. Lavish ATM discotheques are an impossible stretch considering the current economic climate. And you’re right. President Zuma buried our beloved rand so deep under mining rubble I’ll be surprised to see this idea come to life.

They might as well give it a go though.

Judging by the plans on the table putting mirror balls in ATMs may not be the worst way to go — if not to inspire investor confidence then simply to lift our spirits. And come on now. Who wouldn’t want to see ATMs turn into glittering discotheques?

Just imagine the scenes.

Trevor Manuel rocks up at an Absa shindig in roller skates and Will Ferrell’s MTV Movie Awards money suit. Reserve Bank Governor Gill Marcus stumbles out of a 48-hour Nedbank bender covered in banking slips and polka dots. The $6m man is spotted at a Capitec do in a T-shirt reading “R6m and counting”. No more going to the ATM before going to the venue. On this new system the ATM becomes the venue. No more asking, “Where are these ATM fees going?” Obviously they’re going to the lights in the floor; the speakers in the wall; the sexy bank manager dressed in a thong and leg warmers (male or female whatever your preference) rubbing up against you asking in a husky voice, “Is everything OK?”

But we’ll have to soak it up. ATM discotheques won’t last forever.

It won’t be long before the banks grow tired of the new, fair system and make weekend parties for Gold Card members only. All of a sudden Autoplus machines become a VIP privilege. Trying to get into a Nedbank party with an Absa card will be impossible the bouncer simply saying “Sorry buddy, you’re not on the list” and we’re back where we started coughing up cash to bribe bouncers to get into parties to get our hands on cash that was ours to begin with.

But hey, at least we’ll have a blast doing so. And guess what? The rand’s dramatic fall will be a feint, distant memory.

Dedicated to the rand: 1961-2013

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